Made Like a Gun: 1963 Royal Enfield Interceptor

The Royal Enfield 750 Interceptor Mk1 went head to head in the showrooms with the new Norton Atlas 750.

| March/April 2016

  • 1963 Royal Enfield Interceptor
    Photo by Jeff Barger
  • 1963 Royal Enfield Interceptor
    Photo by Jeff Barger
  • 1963 Royal Enfield Interceptor
    Photo by Jeff Barger
  • 1963 Royal Enfield Interceptor
    Photo by Jeff Barger
  • 1963 Royal Enfield Interceptor
    Photo by Jeff Barger
  • 1963 Royal Enfield Interceptor
    Photo by Jeff Barger
  • Coolest kid on the block: Greg Lawless and his Interceptor.
    Photo by Jeff Barger
  • 1963 Royal Enfield Interceptor
    Photo by Jeff Barger
  • The short lever on the gearbox is the neutral finder, a handy feature at stop lights.
    Photo by Jeff Barger
  • 1963 Royal Enfield Interceptor
    Photo by Jeff Barger

1963 Royal Enfield Mk1 Interceptor
Engine:
747cc air-cooled parallel twin, 71.5mm x 93mm bore and stroke, 8.5:1 compression ratio, 55hp @ 6,000rpm (claimed)
Top speed:
115mph (est.)
Weight (dry):
410lb (186kg)
Fuel capacity:
3gal (11.4ltr)
Price then/now:
$1,168 (1963)/$12,000-$15,000

When I was in high school 45 years ago, there was an older kid who was unremarkable except that he owned two Royal Enfield Interceptors. That made him cooler than cool, because the merely cool rest of us rode more common British bikes or maybe something Japanese.

Greg Lawless bought this 1963 Interceptor for $500 in May 1973 as a college graduation present for himself. I suspect he experienced an immediate spike in his coolness. Over the last 42 years — including six moves involving three states — Greg’s put lots of miles on it and made many memories with it. Though his current collection includes 26 motorcycles, Greg says the Interceptor is the last bike he’d sell.

A little background

Royal Enfield was founded in the 1890s in Redditch, England, (just south of Birmingham) by two bicycle manufacturers who also made interchangeable gun parts for the Royal Small Arms factory in Enfield. For its logo, the new company chose an artillery field gun.



Royal Enfield’s first motorized bicycle, built in 1901, was followed by models incorporating such innovative features as crankcases with integral oil tanks (1903) and rubber “Cush Hub” drives to reduce chain snatch (1912). Royal Enfields were the first English production motorcycles with dry-sump lubrication systems and gear-type oil pumps (1913). The “Super 5” model, launched in 1961, was the first British production motorcycle with a 5-speed gearbox.

In 1948, the company launched the model that was to become synonymous with Royal Enfield: the redesigned overhead valve single-cylinder Bullet. This robust and versatile machine was utilitarian but also excelled as a competition motorcycle, especially in trials events.

DAVIDM
2/26/2016 8:13:14 AM

Interesting history of a bike that should have been more popular. I owned a motorcycle repair shop in the 70s specializing in Brit bikes but never had one of these Royal Enfields show up. Running an oil cooler but no external oil tank would have made this a good power plant for custom bike work.


Bmwdean
2/25/2016 9:06:24 AM

I am a vintage BMW motorcycle enthusiast with twins from the 1950s and 1960s, but I found this article fascinating. Nice to see such dedication to a vintage motorcycle -- even if it is British :) Thanks for a great article!




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